I was hoping to do a roundup of 2011 on 31st December. Unfortunately, the end of 2011 was so busy I didn’t get a chance to finish this off! Thankfully, being married to a Ukrainian means I can claim I’m doing it to the Ukrainian calendar so I’m fine if I post it before 14th January!
The lesson of this post is… if I wrote blogs more frequently, I wouldn’t have such long roundups at the end of the year.
Another year older!
The year got to off to an excellent start, thanks to so many friends turning up to my birthday party at The Lord Moon of the Mall. Although I hadn’t booked a space, we successfully consumed more and more chairs and tables until we had a large slice of it to ourselves, and we stayed until closing when they kicked us out. Thanks to Jenny’s hospitality the drinking continued to the early morning, with a wonderful improvised breakfast when we finally arose the next day. It was amazing to see so many people turn up, and so many stay until the next day.
I (didn’t) predict a riot
In March it was my sister’s turn to have a birthday, so I decided to take her out to dinner the weekend before .. on March 26th. I suggested meeting at Oxford Circus. March 26th, as you may recall, was the day of the TUC march (which was very well behaved – I wandered along the route before meeting up). After it, however, a combination of UK Uncut and various ‘anarchist’ groups led protests on Oxford Street, Regent Street and at the expensive shops on Piccadilly.
I knew there would probably be some sort of trouble, but mistakenly believed it would kick off down Whitehall and around Trafalgar Square, so had planned to eat around Piccadilly Circus. We weren’t very far into our meal when some folks dressed in black started dragging barriers into the middle of the street to start a large fire outside. When we left, there were more people in black running around, and one guy inside a building site collecting things to throw at the police. Quick as a flash, two riot police brought him down and dragged him away. He didn’t seem to happy. We all left London safely – it was business and the police that were the targets, not anyone else, so there wasn’t any real danger. I’m not sure my mum was too happy though…
You can see some pics and my original posts here:
But not our one. The second most important wedding of the year was in April, and Ivanka wanted to go and look at the crowds (she was less interested in the wedding itself!). After a bit of people-watching, including a sea of people frantically trying to make it to the screens in Hyde Park, we joined JJ at the Naval & Military club for some gin, food and afternoon tea. It was a great way to take in the atmosphere but then sit somewhere comfortable. We popped out to see the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight fly-past, and had a great view of them emerge out of the mist above St Paul’s Cathedral. Turns out that wasn’t my last encounter with their Lancaster during the year.
Back to the Albert Hall
A few weeks later it was time for my PhD graduation, and yet another graduation ceremony in the Royal Albert Hall (my seventh!). The ceremony was fairly standard, but we had a special flypast – RAF BBMF’s Lancaster was in London for the unveiling of a Battle of Britain memorial, and did a low flypast over the Royal Albert Hall. Clem and Bo’ also made it out, but sadly I once again failed to go to my own graduation on Jez, as she was in bits.
“We won’t beat last year”
In last year’s roundup I was quite excited that we’d got into the top 10 on the Miglia Quadrato with Jez. I was convinced we couldn’t beat that this year, because Jez was in bits and Clem tends to be difficult to get out of in a hurry. But we blitzed around the clues and, with a good feeling about it, stood in the rain for 45 minutes waiting for the answers. And then they came… we were second place! In an 85 year old vehicle, we’d beaten a lot of the regulars. Smaller teams are ranked above larger ones in the event of a tie, so we probably can’t do better than that with our six-person team!
Sunshine in the lakes
In June I took a trip with Ivanka to the Lake District, so we could decide what we wanted to do for our mini honeymoon (minimoon) there. We spent a day walking around Windermere and doing boat tours, and another cycling around the lake – the first time I’d been on a bike for about 15 years! We had glorious sunshine, a rarity in the Lakes, but didn’t have the right gear with us to head for the fells. That was to wait for the honeymoon… But I got back into cycling again and bought a mountain bike to take out on the bridleways of Surrey – and the pot-holed, tram-filled roads of Croydon!
The weekend before the wedding, at the end of August, I’d planned to have a second stag weekend at the Island Steam Show, where we usually take Jez and Clem every year. Sadly, this year, mechanical failures meant we had no vehicles to take. Luckily for me, we’re regulars there and are known to lend a hand if needed, so they let us stay in the camping field anyway. It was a great way to unwind (and top up the tan) before the wedding.
After the small show the royals put on, it was time for our wedding. After over a year of planning and hard work by Ivanka and her mum (without a bit of input from me!), we finally got married after 6 years together. It was a wonderful, if exhausting day, which was excellently captured by our photographer and videographer. You can see more at these places:
- Article by Ivanka on the English Weddings blog
- Wedding video highlights clip
- Article and photos by our photographer
Our ‘minimoon’ proved to be much wetter than our visit to the Lakes in June, with a trip to do the Fairfield Horseshoe ending with us both completely sodden (despite new waterproof gear), hobbling off the fells with the light fading.
We had some amazing views, and the trip to the fells was a bit of metaphor for marriage I think – some tough times, but we got through them together! We were in so much pain afterwards, we had trouble walking up the steps into the restaurant we visited at the end of the day!
A New Home
After the wedding we started looking for a house to buy in Croydon, where we’ve been living for four years. I thought it would take months, but we quickly found a place we liked – what’s more, there were signs that it was previously inhabitated by a steam nutter, which made it a great fit.
There’s a bit of work to be done (and lots of furniture to buy!) but it’s a nice house, and well worth the stress of buying it.
The Year Ends
December ended up being a mixed month – good, bad and bittersweet moments and a lot of stress at times.
We had some bad news, with my Gran sadly passing away after a battle with lung cancer.
But we’ve had some excellent new people start at work and we completed the purchase of the house (after a lot of stress in run up to it, but I guess that’s what housebuying is like).
It was also great to see Jenny head off to what looks like a perfect job, so congratulations to her!
It looks like 2012 is going to be a very different year – a new home, new people and a chance to settle down.